Having read through a few posts, a lot of people seem to be complaining of 'slow' connections.
I'd just like to give people a bit of info on how to actually test your connection speed and throughput - this is not by any means a definitive guide, just things to take into consideration before calling your ISP - at least you'll have a better idea where the problem is if you do this. it's a lot better to call your tech support and say 'there appears to be packet loss between my ADSL router and it's gateway, please can you do a line check to see if erros are building up on the circuit' rather than 'YOU FIX, YOU FIX NOW OR I'M GOING TO CARPHONE WAREHOUSE / TISCALI / BT etcetce' (who by the way are all basically the same network :/ )
fist thing - If you have any networking equipment ie, switches, routers, servers. you need to take these out of the equation and plug a computer into your modem /adsl router with an ethernet cable.
you do this for a couple of reasons - you need a benchmark to compare testing through your network against, your ISP's mostly don't support you kit, and things break - i know it's hard to believe but routers, cables, switches etcetcetc eventually stop working (if they didn't ever break you wouldn't see outages - that would make my life a lot easier ) . once you have your benchmark of how much throughput you can put across your connection, you can then work out if you have an issue with internal equipment or not.
Speed tests sites aren't reliable ways to test your kit - the most reliable thing to do is find a site that has large files to download, and servers with lots of bandwidth - google 'Linux iso' for example and find a host that is relatively close to your location
I've personally found that filefront are able to max out my 20 meg connection - I use the site myself to download mods for games, and you don't need to sign up to use them
try and download 3 or four files at the same time. The point is to saturate your connection and see how much your modem / router can handle. the important thing is the transfer rate
here is an idea of maximum (ish) transfer rates
2 meg connection - 250Kilobyte p/s
10 meg - 1.1 Megabyte p/s
20 meg - 2.2 Megabyte p/s
50 meg - 5 - 6 Megabyte p/s (although I haven't actually used one of these yet and haven't had anyone confirm that they were actually able to download at their max rate)
You also need to try and make sure there isn't any other traffic going over your connections this will skew your testing - It's a good idea to go into start> run> MSconfig> startup> disable all to switch of any unnecessary background software, as a lot of things 'autoupdate' these days - If you machine has been off for a while you bandwidth could be getting used by everything you have ever installed trying to update all at the same time....
why is it slow?
The next major thing to consider is what actually causes a slow connection.
the main things are packet loss, network utilization, and the settings / capabilities of the equipment being tested (including everything from your PC up to the site you are connecting to). although you can't do much to investigate network problems at home. However you can check for packet loss, and you can change settings on your machine to improve things
As a tech you need to test one thing at a time and find out what the weak link is, then swap it or fix it. This is what you will need to do with your kit - this includes software!!, not just hardware
Programs like Win MTR ( http://winmtr.sourceforge.net/
) are very useful to find out where packet loss is occurring.
win MTR traces the route to the specified destination (I would use you ISP's DNS servers) and then pings each hop on the way continuously.
you can use the results from running this to see if their is packet loss occurring at specific points on the route - The most important point being between your computer and whatever it's plugged into - and the hop from your gateway (modem / adsl router ) to it's gateway (UBR / BT exchange) these are the points that are likely to have packet loss if there is a problem, and more importantly you can maybe get fixed.
packet loss usually indicates a poor connection between two devices, such as a loose or damaged cable or port, or the device you are pinging is to busy to respond, remember icmp traffic is very low priority so packet loss when pinging a busy server is expected.
if you see packet loss, then at least you have an idea of where the problem is and can investigate - basic things like swapping cables and re-seating connections is always a good place to start. With ADSL there are a number of things you can swap, including the microfilters and socket you are plugging them into
If you don't get any indication of packet loss, you now know that all your equipment seems to be working ok (again, i mean all the equipment from the nic card on your pc, all the way to the site you are pinging) - so now you need to check settings on the equipment you are testing.
Useful tips and tools
TCP optimizer ( http://www.speedguide.net/downloads.php
) is a small program that essentially makes changes to the registry on your machine - the most useful things are the TCP window size (im not going to explain this, please google it) and the number of connections your browser can make simultaneously. THIS CAN MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE!!
If you go on a site with lots of small pictures (shopping sites ladies ) then your browser will download 2 pictures at a time and move on to the next as one finishes. Considering most people have a 2 megabit connection, and the images are usually quite small, you connection can handle a lot more than this - you can change this to 10 at a time using tcp optimizer, which can make a huge difference to the perceived amount of time it takes to view a web site.
other things to consider are the maximum throughput on the kit you are using, some ports on switches and routers are rated at 10 meg, rather than 100 meg - so if you have a 20 meg connection you will NEVER get more than 10 meg through that port. This also goes for the network card on your PC - for some reason older cards are set at 10 meg, try going into your hardware settings to check the speed the card is set to.
anything that interferes with the traffic being sent to and from your machine, ie antivirus / firewall software on your machine AND your routers / modems can affect the maximum throughput (if you have slow machine running antivirus software that inspects every packet coming through, your computer might not be able to handle the traffic being thrown at it. hit ctrl+alt+delete and watch the little green graph that indicates CPU usage when downloading large files) try turning them off temporarily and re-testing you might be surprised at the difference.
the antivirus / firewall software I personally use is Comodo. It works well and is free - you can't get much better than that.
If you've done all this and STILL get low throughput - then you may be on a busy / broken part of the network. Here's the part where you call your ISP and ask them to do some checks - at least this time you will have a whole load of info available to prove your kit is working fine
A handy tip for ADSL is to plug your microfilter into the master socket of your BT line - If you take the face off your main socket usually
there are two places to plug your phone into and there is a piece of electronic euqipment between the two (i can't remember what it is tbh) however some people have reported 20% increase in speed when using the master socket, rather than the normal one. (google it though, I haven't looked into this for ages)
what makes you such an expert?
I'm not, and I don't consider myself to be either. I just wanted to help people get a better idea of what they are talking about before they start shouting and some poor bloke in India who is reading a script (have you tried switching it off and on again? YEEEEESSSSSAAAARGGGH STOP ASKING ME THAT!!!)
the programs I have put in this post I use myself at home, I'm sure there are lots of others out there that do the same, it's just these are free and work, so that's why i recommend them. Most of the info I have put on here is coming from general experience and of course testing at home. If you think anything on this post is wrong, or too complicated, or pointless, let me know and I will do my best to update this in edit 3.
If you would like me to try and help in your own personal plight, feel free to message me and I'll see if I can help, although I've been lurking on the boards recently, so it might be easier to just start a thread - at least that way if I can't help someone else probably can
I'd also like to say that if you do decide to do anything I have suggested on this, you do so at your own risk. I have spent most of my life taking computers apart and rebuilding them, and have several years experience as a tech so I am confident if I break something I can fix it. I also keep a back up of my machine on an old hard disk, so i can just copy it across if i kill it =)